Dr No - Production Notes
The progress of James Bond, 007 from the printed page to the big screen was not an easy passage. The journey began in May 1954 when Gregory Ratoff, the Russian-born director / producer, successfully bid for the television rights to Ian Fleming's first Bond novel, Casino Royale. Ratoff subsequently bowdlerized the novel and presented a drastically altered version as part of the Climax Mystery Theater anthology show in October of 1954.
Ratoff was so impressed by his creation that in March 1955 he bought the full screen rights to Casino Royale for the then princely sum of $6,000. Fleming was on something a roll at this time, penning a screenplay based on his then current novel Moonraker for Rank who eventually dithered for so long over whether to commit to the project that it simply never got made.
In 1956, Fleming, produced a 28 page script titled James Gunn - Secret Agent for Henry Morgenthau III, a New York based producer who had entered into a deal with the Jamaican government, hoping to turn the island into a major film production centre. Given that Fleming had fallen in love with Jamaica and set up home there [living in a huge mansion he dubbed Goldeneye], the writer seemed the perfect choice to assist Morgenthau in his frankly rather oddball scheme.
Morgenthau saw the Gunn treatment as the springboard for a whole TV show and felt that the cachet attached to Fleming's name would be sure to attract US TV executives and their money and influence. The half-hour pilot would pit secret agent Commander Bond against Oriental super-villain Doctor No who, working with German scientists, was planning to sabotage the West's attempts to reach space by interfering with a launch site based in the Caribbean.
By the end of 1956, the project was dead, Morgenthau's grand schemes coming to nothing. Fleming, never one to waste good material, reworked the script as the basis for his 1957 novel Dr No, resurrecting Bond who, at the climax of the previous novel From Russia With Love, had been left for dead.
Almost immediately, interest was piqued in the film industry - one small company made initial inquiries about obtaining the rights to Dr No but was shouldered out of the way when US TV giant CBS lumbered into frame, the company's president Hubell Robinson keen to adapt Bond into the star of a 13-part TV series. Fleming dug out his tattered copy of the James Gunn script, rewrote it for Bond and would once again watch as the project ran aground.
Poor Fleming was probably beginning to despair of ever seeing his beloved James Bond reach the big screen by this stage, despite an extraordinary amount of work on his part. The next attempt to film Bond would also fail to come to fruition, but it was at least to have some impact on the future of the suave secret agent's screen career. In 1958, Ivar Bryce, a close friend of Fleming's, introduced the writer to a young Irish film maker named Kevin McClory. Bryce and McClory had already worked together on the low budget The Boy and the Bridge, a film which Fleming saw in rough cut and enjoyed very much.
Fleming decided to throw in his lot with Bryce and McClory and for the next couple of years the threesome, joined by another of Fleming's friends, Ernest Cuneo, worked away on a number of possible screen treatments for Bond.
Though relations between Fleming and McClory were often strained, the partnership seemed to have been successful enough for Kinematograph Weekly to announce, on 1 October 1959, that McClory had in fact begun pre-production on James Bond of the Secret Service which would reflect McClory's love of water sports and feature a number of underwater scenes. Shooting would begin, we were assured, some time in February of 1960.
February 1960 came and went and there was no sign of James Bond of the Secret Service. In fact the partnership had failed to find the funding they needed for their ambitious project and it simply faded away.
Fleming was to re-use some of the ideas generated by the project in his novel Thunderball which led to a long running legal battle between the author, McClory and the producers that would eventually get the film series off the ground.
One of the unsung players in the tortured history of James Bond on the screen has been solicitor Brian Lewis who numbered among his clients Fleming and a Canadian film producer named Harry Saltzman. It was Lewis who arranged for Fleming and Saltzman to meet in 1960 and who, perhaps inadvertently, laid the foundations for one of the longest running and most profitable film series in history.
As a result of this meeting, Saltzman bought an option on the Bond novels but, with his six months option about to expire, Saltzman was still finding it difficult to raise capital when, in May 1961, screenwriter Wolf Mankowitz suggested that Saltzman should talk to another producer who was interested in Bond, New Yorker Albert R. 'Cubby' Broccoli.
Broccoli had been in the film industry for years and, in 1952, had teamed up with Irving Allen to create Warwick Films which turned out plenty of cheap and now forgotten quota quickies throughout the 1950s, one of which had been the war film The Red Beret , directed by Terence Young and co-written by Richard Maibaum, both of whom would also figure prominently in the Bond story.
In fact Broccoli and Maibaum had already considered their own version of Bond in 1958 when the producer asked Maibaum to read the novels and see if he could come up with a workable treatment. That version never made it, finally killed when Warwick Films folded in 1960.
As luck would have it, Saltzman was also at a bit of a loose end in 1960 - he still had his option on Bond, but his partnership with John Osborne and Tony Richardson [who together comprised the production company Woodfall] had dissolved. When Broccoli and Saltzman met, they - reluctantly at first - decided to pool their resources.
But time was running out on Saltzman's option and the producers had to move quickly. They formed a new company, Danjaq [formed from an amalgam of their wives names, Dana Broccoli and Jacqueline Saltzman] and used Saltzman's Canadian citizenship to allow them to base their company in Switzerland. The British arm of the operation was called EON Productions - long held to be an acronym for Everything Or Nothing, though Broccoli later denied that this was the case.
The race was now on to secure the all important financing that their Bond project would need. Columbia were the first of the studios to express an interest but they backed out when they felt unable to commit to any more than $400,000, a sum that EON felt just wasn't enough. Broccoli then began to pursue United Artists and was told by their chairman, Arthur Krim, that he and Saltzman should talk to fellow UA executive David Picker. On 20 June 1961, the two producers arrived at United Artists' headquarters in New York ready to give their pitch. Forty minutes later, the deal was done and UA were on board for a six-picture deal. James Bond was finally going to reach the big screen.
The beginnings of Bond's film career went virtually unnoticed by the trade press, except for a few brief notices announcing the forthcoming film as one of a slate of productions being readied by Saltzman and Broccoli. But while the rest of the world carried on blissfully unaware of what was coming, the producers had hired writer Richard Maibaum to work on a treatment based on Thunderball.
But that messy court case surrounding the novel was to rear its ugly head and frightened Saltzman and Broccoli away, though not before Maibaum had actually finished his first draft screenplay. Instead, they turned their attentions to Dr No which was now being prepared by Maibaum and Wolf Mankowitz.
But there was one vital element still missing from the production - Saltzman and Broccoli didn't have anyone yet to play Bond. On 5 October 1961, Kinematograph Weekly announced that production on Dr No would not now take place until the following year, allowing the producers to concentrate on their search for a star.
A national newspaper ran a competition looking for the screen Bond and had whittled down more than 1,000 contestants to a more manageable six, all of whom were screen tested by EON at Twickenham studios. Of the six, one man emerged as the clear leader - a young model named Peter Anthony. But he was ultimately deemed unsuitable, though as consolation, he was offered a small part in the film, though he eventually failed to appear.
Others who were reportedly being considered for the role at this time included Richard Johnson [who would later play another fictional British secret agent, Bulldog Drummond], Roger Moore, Rex Harrison, Trevor Howard, Max Von Sydow and Patrick McGoohan. The latter was reportedly offered the role but he turned it down, appalled by the character's brutality and wanton behaviour. Broccoli himself, meanwhile, was keen on pursuing Cary Grant for the role. Fleming favoured either David Niven, Moore or his cousin, Christopher Lee, with his neighbour in Jamaica, Noel Coward, as Dr No, all of whom were deemed unsuitable for one reason or another. In fact Coward himself turned down the part, famously sending a telegraph to the producers which simply read: "Dr. No? No! No! No!"
The first time that Sean Connery's name went into the hat was at a dinner party attended by Saltzman and his wife at the Polish club in London. Also present were producer Benjamin Fisz, and editor Peter Hunt [then finishing off work on a comedy, On The Fiddle, for Fisz and himself a key player in later Bond films]. During dinner, Saltzman mentioned the problems that he and Broccoli had been having in finding the right man to play Bond when Fisz mentioned to Hunt that Connery, who was appearing in the still unfinished On the Fiddle, might fit the bill.
Hunt screened a couple of reels of On the Fiddle featuring Connery for Saltzman, while in the States, Broccoli had already seen Connery's work in the successful Disney comedy-musical Darby O'Gill and the Little People . Connery, a former naval rating, milkman and labourer, had been toiling away in film and TV since 1957, never really achieving the sort of roles that would best suit his obvious talents.
In October 1961, Connery was invited to EON's offices in Mayfair, London, for the first of a series of interviews with Saltzman and Broccoli. The producers were impressed by what they saw - Broccoli liked the young Scot's body language and Saltzman later revealed [on the BBC's Whicker's World in 1967] that they simply "liked the way he moved..."
"There's only one other actor who moves as well as he does, and that's Albert Finney. They move like cats... for a big man to be light on his feet is most unusual."
United Artists were initially reluctant to employ Connery, feeling that Saltzman and Broccoli could do rather better if they tried hard enough. But Saltzman and Broccoli stood their ground and Connery was offered a multi-picture deal in late October 1961.
The Daily Cinema announced the casting of Connery on 3 November 1961 and Connery was immediately the attention of much press speculation and interest - his best print 'performance' was clearly his interview with Susan Barnes for The Sunday Express published on 31 December 1961 which culminated in Connery and Barnes debating violence towards women and Barnes "beating a rapid retreat" from the rising star's apartment!
Meanwhile, Saltzman and Broccoli had employed Terence Young to direct Dr No after Bryan Forbes, Guy Green and future Bond director Guy Hamilton had all passed on the project. The dapper Young took Connery under his wing and immediately took him off to his shirt makers in Paris and London and insisted on being present at all of Connery's wardrobe sessions. Young's attention to detail was to result in an image that has remained constant throughout over 30 years of film-making.
By the end of 1961, Saltzman and Broccoli were just about ready to begin shooting. The script was still not ready [it wasn't helped much by the departure of Mankowitz after a series of disagreements with the producers]. In desperation, and with only a few days to go before shooting was due to begin, Broccoli took Young to the Dorchester and installed him in a suite with one of his assistants, Johanna Harwood, to work over the script. By the end of the first week in January they emerged with a workable screenplay and shooting finally began on Tuesday 16 January 1962 in Jamaica.
While Young had been preparing for the shoot, Saltzman and Broccoli had been looking for the first in a long series of Bond girls - the hunt was on for the big screen Honey Ryder whose spectacular entrance in the novel (she emerges naked from the sea) was clearly going to have to be altered to suit 1960s cinematic tastes. It was Young who had first spotted Ursula Andress in late 1961, allegedly spotting a picture of the young Swiss actress wearing a wet T-shirt on office wall of Darryl F. Zanuck, head of Twentieth Century Fox. Zanuck had no plans to use Andress in anything and gave Young the photograph to take back to London with him.
In late 1961, after considering Andress for almost a month, Broccoli asked for advice from Columbia's casting chief Max Arno who was suitably impressed by the actress' looks. Arno's word was good enough for Saltzman and Broccoli who had Andress flown from Los Angeles to New York and on to the set in Jamaica at the end of January.
The EON crew arrived in Jamaica on Sunday 14 January 1962 and began shooting two days later, taking in locations at Palisadoes Airport, Kingston, Montego Bay and Oncaros. Much use was made of local talent to play smaller roles: Dolores Keator was cast as Strangways' secretary Mary Prescott because she owned the house that the crew were shooting in; other local amateur actors took the tiny roles of the Chief of Police and the construction worker who watches the car carrying the thugs pursuing Bond as it careens over the edge of the cliff. Keeping it in the family, the bartender seen at Puss-Feller's club was a relative of costume designer Tessa Welborn.
When the main unit relocated to Laughing Water to shoot the scene where Honey Ryder memorably emerges from the sea, they found themselves literally just down the beach from Goldeneye and Fleming himself visited the set with friends and neighbours Noel Coward and Stephen Spender and visiting journalist Peter Quennell. Fleming even spent some time with Connery advising him on the best way to play Bond.
Fleming returned to the set on 17 February when the crew had moved on to Falmouth to watch the crew staging the scene wherein Bond and Honey hide behind a sand bank after being shot at by No's guards aboard a boat. The sequence had to be reshot after a detachment of American sailors, alerted by the sound of gunfire, rushed to the scene to see what was going on!
Jamaican location work finally came to an end on 21 February with some material still left unfilmed due to a change in the weather. He was able to pick up a few scenes later, but for now the production was heading back to the UK and Pinewood Studios where production designer Ken Adam had been constructing his vast, awesome sets.
At Pinewood, one of the enduring icons of the Bond series was about to make her debut after a rather strange introduction to Saltzman and Broccoli. Canadian actress Lois Maxwell had taken to calling round various directors and producers touting for work after her husband had suffered a double coronary on her son's second birthday.
Maxwell was becoming increasingly worried about her finances and was calling on people who had employed her in the past on the off-chance that they might have something to offer her.
In fact, Young offered her a choice - she could either play Sylvia Trench, Bond's first on-screen conquest, or Miss Moneypenny, the ever-adoring secretary to Bond's superior, M.
Maxwell was concerned about the scene in which Bond finds Trench in his room wearing only one of his shirts and opted to take the role of Moneypenny. For this she received £200 for two days work and had to supply her own wardrobe. No doubt at the time she was grateful for the money and she was certainly grateful for the increased exposure the role was to bring her in later years.
On 25 February, with only one more day to go before studio filming began, Connery and Maxwell were joined by Bernard Lee who was signed to play M, head of the 00 section. Young later claimed that Lee only got the job "because everyone else was away" but he proved to be an inspired choice who, like Maxwell, was to become a regular fixture throughout the first part of the Bond series.
On Friday 30 March, the main shooting schedule came to an end and the all-important post-production period began. While Peter Hunt pieced together Young's footage, Broccoli commissioned Monty Norman to write the soundtrack. The men had worked together before, on the ill-fated stage musical Belle which had died a nasty death. This didn't put Broccoli off, however, and he had offered Norman the chance to fly out to Jamaica to get a feel for the place and for the production.
Back in the UK, Norman began work on his calypso-flavoured score and work was proceeding nicely when someone suggested that the film should begin with a distinctive theme tune. Rifling through his back catalogue, Norman came across a song that he had composed for an un-produced stage musical of the satirical novel A House For Mr Biswas by V.S. Naipaul. The distinctively strident little tune was just what he was looking for.
But Norman's contribution to the finished film was to be somewhat less than he had expected. Though the tune was felt to be almost right, something was missing. Noel Rodgers, then head of music at United Artists, called in composer John Barry and his ensembles The John Barry Seven and The John Barry Orchestra to overhaul the piece. Barry's masterstroke was to let his guitarist, Vic Flick, loose on the main riff before his brass section kicked in to awesome effect. Exactly how much of Norman's original still remained is unclear as there are clear precedents to the theme tune in Barry's own work. But whatever it's parentage the distinctive twangy guitar into has been heard in every one of the 'official' Bond films made since and has become an integral part of the Bond mythos.
By July 1962 Dr No was in sufficient shape for Young to hold a private screening at the Traveller's Club in London attended by Ian Fleming and his wife Anne, the Duke and Duchess of Bedford, Lord and Lady Beesborough, John Sutro and Peter Quennell. The event was far from the success that Young might have hoped. Anne Fleming, in a letter to Evelyn Waugh, noted that "it was an abominable occasion" and was appalled at the gales of laughter that greeted the scene of the tarantula crawling up Bond's body. Fleming himself hated what he saw. Following another preview in Leicester Square he took his research assistant Peter Garnham to a pub and dismissed the film as "Dreadful. Simply dreadful."
By October that same year, Fleming's attitude had softened slightly: he told Time that fans of the books would be disappointed that those who had never read Bond's adventures in print would "find it a wonderful movie."
Dr No was unveiled to the British press at the London Pavilion on 2 October 1962 and it opened to the public there three days later before going on general release on the 8th. The press were divided, but the public adored the film and Dr No was a huge success. The film had its US premiere on Thursday 7 March 1963, a star-studded event on Broadway [Connery was in attendance as were Leonard Bernstein, Phyllis Newman, Faye Emerson, Patrice Munsel, Zsa Zsa Gabor and many others] followed by an equally glamorous supper party at the Tower Suite. Despite a generally positive reception, United Artists were still unsure of what they had on their hands, however, and delayed its release in the States until 8 May 1963. It repeated its success Stateside and the impressive return on the film's $1 million outlay virtually ensured that a sequel was to follow.